Mitch makes his pitch
By TONY WHITE
SOUTH GRAFTON High Year 11 student Mitch Morgan didn't realise it at the time but an impromptu decision to accompany a mate to a baseball training session at Cudgen six years back was the catalyst for a feast of subsequent home runs.
Residing at Tweed Heads, Morgan went along to the session and almost immediately fell in love with the game.
"Yeah, a friend talked me into going and I ended up being better than him," the 15-year-old recalled.
"I used to play T-ball and cricket but I'm lucky I'm good at baseball and I really like it. That's all I do now, baseball all year round.
"Like most players, my dream would be to play in America but at the moment my goal is to get into the Queensland Under-18 team and see what happens from there."
Locals passing J J Lawrence Field at South Grafton most afternoons have become accustomed to seeing three young players and a coach go through their paces in the sport that demands good hand and eye co-ordination, agility, quick reflexes and a throwing arm.
While Matt and James Linger have attracted plenty of publicity through their baseball deeds, the third member of the trio, Morgan, has all but slipped under the media radar. The trio is coached by the Linger's father, Mark, a former Australian player.
Like most sports, to reach the top echelon a dedicated training program is essential. Three days a week the Lingers and Morgan work hard at perfecting their craft under Mark Linger's watchful eye.
"Mark has been my coach for the last three or four years and has done a lot for me. He's been great," Morgan said.
Morgan is proving more than adept at baseball and hopes to one day pursue a career into the big league. Not only can he belt a ball out of the park but he also plays pitcher, outfield and short stop. Already the talented youngster has made the Queensland All Star team that played in the Koala Cup on the Gold Coast against two Japanese international sides last December.
He plays for Mudgeeraba in the Queensland Baseball League. Most Saturday's throughout the year, the Lingers and Morgan travel to Queensland to play baseball and pursue their passion.
"I don't really mind the travelling. It takes about three hours from Grafton but I usually sleep," Morgan laughed.
Morgan is competing in the inaugural National Regional Youth Championships in Lismore. After a tug-o'-war between the Gold Coast and Far North Coast team, Morgan elected to play for the Gold Coast Sand Dogs.
Team friends and the coach swayed his decision.
At the time of writing, the Gold Coast was undefeated after three matches.
Morgan was playing a pivotal role, and the Gold Coast was top of the table against teams from South Australia, Newcastle and the Macleay Valley.
The tournament runs from January 11-18.
"We're going good, hopefully we can make the final," Morgan said yesterday.
With state selectors eyeing the tournament, Morgan's chances of Queensland Under-18 selection should be further enhanced.
BRISBANE. ? Former Reds assistant coach Grant Batty doubts Eddie Jones is the right man to guide Queensland because he lacks experience coaching a struggling Super 14 team.
Batty also questioned the Queensland Rugby Union's decision to allow Jones to continue his secondary coaching role with Japanese team Suntory, when he takes over from Jeff Miller in June.
Jones was sacked from the Test job six weeks ago.